Chinese mainland to fully reopen border with HK and Macao, scrap COVID test requirements
Published: Feb 03, 2023 09:53 AM
Passengers check in for flight CZ309 from Beijing to Hong Kong at Beijing Daxing International Airport in Beijing on January 17, 2023. The flight marks the resumption of international and regional passenger flight services at the airport after a nearly three-year pandemic-induced suspension (see story on page 11). Photo: Xinhua

Passengers check in for flight CZ309 from Beijing to Hong Kong at Beijing Daxing International Airport in Beijing on January 17, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

China will scrap quota limitations on personnel exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong, Macao special administrative regions (SARs), and allow group tours starting from February 6 to fully resume personnel exchanges, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council announced on Friday.

Personnel entering the Chinese mainland from Hong Kong and Macao SARs who have no travel history in a foreign country or other overseas regions within seven days will not need to present negative COVID-19 nucleic acid testing results. Should personnel have such travel history, the Hong Kong and Macao SARs will be responsible for checking their testing results acquired within 48 hours before entering the mainland, and those with negative results could enter the mainland, according to the announcement. Children aged 3 years and under are exempt from nucleic acid testing.

Upon arrival, people from Hong Kong and Macao SARs shall complete the necessary Customs clearance procedures before entering the mainland. Persons with abnormal health conditions or fever and other symptoms shall be tested by the Customs. Those who test positive can be quarantined at home or seek medical treatment after entry into the mainland, said the authorities.

After the authorities announced the full resumption of people-to-people exchanges between the mainland and the SARs, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced scrapping nucleic acid test requirements and reopening three land ports - Luohu, Liantang and Huanggang - starting from February 6. The port of Sha Tau Kok will also resume cargo services.

Also starting from February 6, all the international arrivals to Hong Kong will no longer be required to present vaccination records as Hong Kong fully reopens.

Lee said the full resumption of cross-border travel between Hong Kong and the mainland will further boost people-to-people exchanges and business activities. He launched "Hello Hong Kong" publicity campaign on Thursday to attract tourists from around the globe. "I believe that the city will be more prosperous and energetic in 2023."

Hong Kong will also allow cross-border students to return from the mainland to the city for in-person classes in two stages in an orderly manner, first allowing middle school students to return on February 8 and then allowing primary school and kindergarten students by February 22.

Lo Chung-mau, secretary of health of the Government of Hong Kong, also told the press conference that since the mainland-Hong Kong border reopened on January 8, the number of COVID-19 infections in the city dropped from 14,000 to 3,000, without triggering a resurgence. The amount of virus in sewage also dropped by 90 percent. 

In terms of imported cases in Hong Kong, only 16 percent were from the mainland, Lo said.

Chief Executive of Macao SAR Ho Iat Seng on Friday led a delegation to Guangzhou to meet with Guangdong provincial officials to further deepen cooperation of Guangdong and Macao, the development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin.

The resumption will play a great role in promoting the recovery of Macao's tourism and its economic vitality, and will give a strong boost to its economic recovery, said Lei Wai Nong, secretary for economy and finance of the Macao SAR, according to media reports.

The search volume of air tickets between Chinese mainland and Hong Kong increased by sevenfold in half an hour following the announcement of scrapping quota limitations on personnel exchanges and resuming group tours, travel agency said on Friday. 

The search volumes related to Hong Kong jumped by more than 371 precent promptly after the announcement, and that related to Macao increased by 324 percent, according to a notice Tongcheng Travel sent to the Global Times on Friday.

Global Times